Eagle Feather News – Alyson Bear

I am an Indigenous student who is searching for justice in a world that has been built on injustice.  If we take a look at history and the founding of our own country it is this history of colonialism that has lead us to being the prosperous country of Canada today. Therefore, it is very important to not deny and hide the truth of our history, because if we do not know where we come from we will never be able to find where we are going.

Residential schools, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, the suicide epidemic in Indigenous communities, overrepresentation in the justice system, the 60’s scoop, the child welfare system, and the ongoing environmental damage being done to the land is all interconnected and a continuous path of destruction through a colonial settler system where social injustice continues to happen to Indigenous peoples today. I will argue that Canada was built on the suffrage of Indigenous peoples and this directly links to the systemic oppression that continues to live in our world with the focus being our missing and stolen sisters.

These direct consequences of colonization such as MMIWG tends to make people feel uncomfortable to speak about, and people will still tune out the conversation when you stand up for the truth and realities of the lives of Indigenous peoples. More profoundly the lives of Indigenous women and what has been happening since the establishment of Canada.

The stealing of Indigenous women’s children is a weapon that has been used by the state, historically and contemporary. Residential School was akin to ripping the hearts out of Indigenous communities. After the heart was stolen everything else connected to the heart began to shatter.  The elders no longer had anyone to teach, the women had no one to take care of, and the men had nothing to protect and provide for.

Kinship is at the core of our Indigenous cultures and traditions, but we have been so engrossed and devastated by the settler-colonial society we no longer know our own Indigenous values, culture, tradition, languages, and therefore we act in ways foreign to us.  We end up hurting each other and ourselves in an endless cycle. The target has been Indigenous women as they are primarily the hope and strength of many Indigenous communities and households.

Indigenous women were once respected and held power in their communities in pre-colonial times and this was foreign to settlers and it threatened their patriarchal hierarchal system.  Indigenous women experience discrimination in society as a double-edged sword from the stigma and discrimination of being a woman in a patriarchal world and the stigma and labels from being First Nation in a white settler world.

Indigenous children continue to be stolen from their mothers by the child welfare system, and Indigenous women are labeled as unfit mothers, and targeted and victimized by society, and continue filling the prisons of the country; our Indigenous women are shoved to the bottom of the patriarchal hierarchy. It is the unfortunate truth that many of our own Indigenous peoples are entrenched in these settler-colonial ideologies and Indigenous women are the scapegoats in their own homes. Indigenous women also face the highest rate of domestic abuse and single motherhood.

Many of our Indigenous men have internalized these Eurocentric patriarchal ways. Parenting skills were not retained because of this system, where children are ripped from the communities from generation to generation and have had heinous acts inflicted upon them and left to deal, manage in a society that was never built for us. Indigenous men were once the protectors and providers.

The book Restoring the Balance highlights this shift from Indigenous worldviews to Eurocentric ways, “Native men adopted the oppressor’s way of operating: power through control, intimidation, manipulation, lack of respect for equality and nurturance of women, abandonment of family and responsibility, and lack of honesty.”  There seems to be no escape from the stigma of ideologies that were created by settlers who were threatened by Indigenous women who continue to not be safe in society.

I demand awareness in our time and in the raising of the future, so the future is decolonized and raised aware of our true history. I have daughters who have to grow up in this world and I will raise them strong, because no matter how many times I have been knocked down I keep rising and that is what I see Indigenous women, Indigenous people, on the rise. There is a need to come together and take care of each other and live by the Indigenous values that have been lost through colonization. The truth is alive and the people are finally starting to see, the Indigenous truth is bleeding through our Canadian frontier.